“He’s such a smart horse and he does everything so easy on himself for such a big horse,” trainer Michael Matz said. “You never know after a four-month rest; do you have the horse fit enough, did you do this, did you do that … you always go through 51 questions. I guess we did it right this time.”
In a hand under Julien Leparoux, Union Rags began to extend his margin at the eighth pole and never was challenged. “I was hoping he would run a good race, but I was not expecting that,” Leparoux said. “He’s such an easy horse to ride and did everything so easily. I didn’t hit him once. I just showed him the stick a couple times. I’m sure he was not 100% today, which means he should just get better.”
News Pending finished second with Discreet Dancer third.
Matz said he was thrilled with the performance after an extended layoff and that he would continue on toward a spot in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs. Looks like Michael Matz is starting to look for those 2012 Kentucky Derby tickets.
“The next stop will be the Florida Derby and then hope we can go to the Kentucky Derby,” he said. Matz was asked if he was as confident in Union Rags as he was with Barbaro and he responded: “Well, Barbaro was an undefeated horse and we had a lot of confidence in him; there was no doubt. If it wasn’t for maybe two feet (Union Rags) would be undefeated, also. I think (Union Rags) a real good horse, he has a got a real good disposition, and I certainly don’t think there’s any problem with distance with him.”
The winner’s share of $240,000 boosted Union Rags’ career earnings to $1,098,800.
Undefeated colt Algorithms was scratched earlier in the day and principal partner in Starlight Racing Jack Wolf told Daily Racing Form that the unbeaten Bernardini colt had a popped splint in his right front leg. He said that Algorithms was fine and that the injury was nothing serious. “Todd (Pletcher, trainer) just doesn’t feel comfortable running him today”. “The colt has been training beautifully,” trainer Todd Pletcher said of the unbeaten Bernardini colt in a statement. “It’s an unfortunate situation. We’ll monitor him closely and see how he responds.” Algorithms was bred by Kentucky Derby alumni Pat Klussman and Oakbrook Farm.